Apple Makes Screen Time API Available to Third-Party Developers
With the launch of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, Apple is making its Screen Time API available to third-party developers, which will let official Screen Time data be used in parental control apps.
Apple first unveiled Screen Time in the iOS 12 update that was released in 2018, allowing users to keep track of the amount of time spent in iOS apps. Parents were also able to use Screen Time for Parental Control purposes, limiting apps and device usage.
Since launch, Screen Time has been built directly into the iPhone and no APIs or SDKs have been made available to developers prior to now, which app developers have not been happy with. That's set to change with iOS 15. From Apple's iOS 15 features page:
Developers can use the Screen Time API in parental controls apps to support an even wider range of tools for parents. The API provides developers with key features like core restrictions and device activity monitoring, all in a way that puts privacy first.
Ahead of when Apple launched Screen Time, it started banning many parental control apps that used Mobile Device Management to let parents control iOS devices belonging to their children. The change led to antitrust issues for Apple following complaints from developers that made parental control apps.
In 2019, developers petitioned Apple to release a Screen Time API that would let them access the same functionalities that are available with the built-in Screen Time feature to level the playing field. Apple may have finally implemented the feature to ease some of the antitrust scrutiny that it is facing from lawmakers in various countries.